A very special thank you to our HHA blog team who will provide a monthly update on the progress we are making towards the goals outlined in this fiscal year’s resolution - “Tend to the fields where the seeds are taking root”.
It seems only fitting to give an update on the “Our Babies, Our Grief” program, as October 1 begins Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. This is an international month of recognition begun on October 25,1988 when then U.S. President Ronald Reagan formalized the proclamation.
In honour of Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month we have a very special virtual workshop happening on Thursday, October 26, 2023: “How to Host a Flower Mandala” workshop.
For those in a companioning / caregiving role or aspiring to do so, this is a great opportunity to learn how to organize and facilitate a beautiful and unique memorial event within your community. The workshop is free and is open to anyone! Feel free to register and share this information with any colleague or connection you believe would love to add this special event to their community outreach endeavors.
Just a little background: “Our Babies, Our Grief” is a 6-week Progressive Healing Group, started in 2018 with HHA Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula (and now Program Facilitator) Julie-Anne Muano at the helm. This progressive healing group is both part of our Pre and Perinatal Hospice and Another Day Grief Companioning Programs.
“Our Babies, Our Grief” fills one of the largest gaps in grief support across all communities and populations. This is why it is one of the four core programs that Home Hospice Association focuses on.
Here is what we have been doing with “Our Babies, Our Grief” and how you can help!
Thanks to HHA Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula and C.A.N.D.Y Facilitator Carole Brulé, we have completed a specialized “Our Babies, Our Grief” program for our senior population. While infant and pregnancy loss may be a stigmatized area of loss “today”, those who experienced such loss decades ago are still grieving in silence. Our mission is to change that with this important new initiative. Now that we have our sessions designed, the next step will be to find a retirement home partner who will sponsor and help pilot the first six-week progressive healing group.
Our Prison Hospice pilot team has added “Our Babies, Our Grief” to their program development work for serving a population housed within prison walls, or who are been released. Thanks to MPP Christine Hogarth, we are starting to have conversations about next steps to offer the Progressive Healing Group through the Ontario provincial correctional facilities system (as a starting point). The Prison Hospice Program is going to be one of our most challenging, and as a result we are working every possible avenue to build a name and “trust” for Home Hospice Association to be seen as a worthy partner in this endeavor. Some avenues have been easy to travel, and others much more challenging. Meeting the needs of those who need us most, whatever that need might be is the goal. If you believe everyone deserves dignity, compassion and culturally sensitive human connection at end of life, consider supporting our Prison Hospice Pilot with your donation.
Houseless Hospice has also been working on using “Our Babies, Our Grief” to meet the needs of members of their population. While the 1 in 4 number (pregnancies that do not result in a live birth) is a national statistic, we do know that more marginalized communities may see a higher percentage of infant and pregnancy loss. One of the most creative projects within “Our Babies, Our Grief” is working with foodbanks who are interested in extending their community outreach to offer more support for those walking through their doors. Paraphrasing a comment from the Executive Director of a foodbank in Cambridge, Ontario: “The courage it takes to walk through our doors is monumental; looking for ways to increase the support we can provide seems like the most respectful way to acknowledge that courage”. Taking inspiration from this comment, we have formed a Foodbank Task Team, who are working on outreach and partnership development with foodbanks in Ottawa, Toronto (GTA), and Hamilton to extend the offering of this progressive healing group to those utilizing these services. Once we roll out in these three communities, we will make foodbanks a national focus. If you would like to support this work please feel free to visit https://www.zeffy.com/en-CA/fundraising/cb2c1058-4019-439e-9306-5dd465b7a0c0 to learn more about where we will put your donation to work.
We look forward to updating you over the next few months about how these projects are making a difference for the communities they serve, and providing information about new projects that we aspire to launch with Indigenous communities, as well as our desire to work with other Charity partners such as The 519 agency in Toronto.
To meet the overwhelming requests for the “Our Babies, Our Grief” program, we need to grow our community and family of Infant & Pregnancy Loss care providers, and to help with this goal, we are launching an IPLD Certificate Program Scholarship Fund.
Recipients of the Scholarship are not chosen because of financial need, but rather for their willingness to grow our program in the community(s) which they live, and with the populations we desire to serve. We have a goal of offering 20 scholarships to start to address the need. If you feel called to this work, and can make the commitment to your community, you are welcome to apply to become one of our scholarship recipients. Visit https://www.homehospiceassociation.com/ipldscholoarshipapplication to begin your application process.
Do you feel called to support HHA’s Scholarship Fund financially? Our fund goal is $14,000.00, and we would be so very grateful for the support you would be able to provide – visit https://www.homehospiceassociation.com/ipldscholarshipfund to learn more and donate.
Do you wish to take our Infant & Pregnancy Loss Certificate Program, but feel it better to leave the scholarship to others? Feel free to visit our Certificate Program Page to learn more and register for the program.
If you are with a charitable organization and know that the population you serve would benefit from “Our Babies, Our Grief” being added to your program portfolio, we would be happy to bring it to you! Visit https://www.homehospiceassociation.com/community-partnerships to learn more.
Nothing happens without the incredible support of our entire HHA team and those who believe our work is deserving of their financial support. “Tending these fields and growing the seeds that have taken root” takes resources. Wondering how you else you could help? Here are three easy ways!
Join the Moonlit Memory Walk and Team 10-15 to walk in memory of an infant or pregnancy loss. There is no better way to help raise funds for work in your community, have a say in how your community is supported, and demonstrate how two of HHA Doula domains of care (legacy and grief) can be of support to anyone, not just those facing death.
Invest your time and talent to help us move our movement forward for any of the projects discussed in this blog ~ wherever you call home and with the population you are most strongly connected / committed to: https://www.homehospiceassociation.com/volunteer
Help us grow our Internship Program, especially for those enrolled in Social Justice programs. Our future Social Workers, Social Service Workers, Community Workers and Criminal Justice Workers are foundational to HHA’s ability to keep our programs leading edge and relevant.
Just as it takes a village to raise a child, that village is equally necessary (some may say even more so) at the end of our life. Thank you to all who have taken the time to read this blog, and consider how to be part of caring for those affected by infant or pregnancy loss. When you think of the 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in a loss statistic, it is easy to see that 100% of us have been affected directly or indirectly. With this program truly helping others, in many ways it means helping ourselves.